The first leg of the Autumn Double, with the Cesarewitch to be run soon, is a massive betting race and one we have got stuck into.
Although the race is run over just a furlong short of a mile-and-a-quarter, it has often been called a ‘9-furlong sprint’ as the big, talented field goes off at a fierce pace and given that horses are herd animals, it’s amazing how many times the speedy ones keep up that gallop to stay near each other right until the end.
We have six against the field with two of them looking like superb each-way bets:
Charlie Hills’ four-year-old is becoming a standing dish in these big, valuable handicaps and frankly it’s about time he landed one this size. By now he could have been running in pattern races given his talent but it has always been thought there’s another big handicap in him and with prize money approaching £100K here it’s worth giving him another go.
He was second to the excellent Addeybb in the consolation race this time last year but improved again when getting faster ground this summer, firstly winning a nice race at York and then when only just beaten in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot.
Backed into favouritism during the week for William Haggas, Alfarris has done nothing but improve this term and won a nice handicap at Goodwood off a mark of 95 before so nearly following up at York off 101.
He’s up to 104 now but that is not thought to be a problem with further progress to come so with faster ground to his liking he would appear to have every chance of making his mark in this race.
One representing the older brigade here and largely overlooked this week. Prices such as 33/1 are widely available at the time of writing and I feel that does not accurately constitute his prospects of scoring in this.
He was only just behind Afaak in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot back in June and ran to a very similar level on unsuitable heavy ground at Haydock Park last time out and so is in rude health. His mark is creeping up without him winning and that of course is a concern, though he definitely has the pace to be involved here and is over-priced as an each-way option.
It’s perhaps unusual to see Aidan O’Brien send one of his into a handicap, even one as valuable as this, however it could prove to be a wise move given that this son of Galileo is moving to a rather in between level meaning he is unlikely to win a decent Group race.
He did though manage to win the Irish version of this race at the start of the month before almost following up in a Group 2 and off a mark of 106 looks to be fairly treated for another big run.
Going well this season without winning, Kynren is another who is no stranger to these big field events and ran his best race to date at York’s Ebor meeting when just being run out of a strong race by Poet’s Society.
He had Sharja Bridge in behind that day, a horse many think can win this race, and is in the form of his life so cannot be taken lightly at all.
For a man used to scooping up Group 1’s these days John Gosden has a very strong hand in this handicap with the son of Tapit possibly the best of them under Frankie Dettori. He won very well at Chelmsford last time and doesn’t seem badly handicapped, though his best form is either over a tad further or on an artificial surface and so he’s not the easiest to assess.
Jim Crowley, number one jockey for Sheikh Hamdan, has chosen to ride Alfarris in this race and leaves AFAAK for Dane O’Neill but he has been known to get it wrong before. Charlie Hills’ 4yo knows his way around these big field handicaps and has himself not peaked quite yet so represents a great each-way bet at a likely price of around 20/1.
Joining him as a great each-way shout is underrated trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam’s CIRCUS COUTURE who, along with Afaak, has enough speed to take a hand and could make the first four.